Dear Dad (Sorry, Hallmark)

     In honor of Father’s Day, I thought I’d write a post about……..wait for it…………..my dad.  I’m not much of a gusher.  I am the exception that proves the rule about how girls are supposed to be into greeting cards and stuff.  I almost never send cards for anything, and I never send those sappy, emotional ones with pictures of the ocean on them or whatever.  If you’ve received one of those from me, I can assure you, someone else bought it and you just thought it was from me.

     Also, I used to be one of those people who said holidays like Valentine’s Day (and Mother’s and Father’s Day, too) were dreamed up by the greeting card companies.  (Then, of course, I became a mother and got presents and all kinds of special attention on Mother’s Day, and I changed my tune.)  The only holiday I even care about is Halloween. 

     Anyway, I thought I’d write a little about my dad.  

      Yep, that’s him as a teenager. 

     Parent/child relationships can be complicated, but who cares?  Now that I’m a parent myself, all of my black-and-white view points have become so many different shades of gray.  Things aren’t always as simple as they seem, are they?  You do the best you can, and that’s all.  As far as my dad goes, the one word that I always associated with him was cool

     I know, right?  I look at this picture in awe.  He is several years younger in this picture than I am now.  How depressing is that?  He looks so young to me.  Yes, those are beer cans sitting around.  My dad drank beer, and he listened to rock and roll music–really loud rock and roll music–he smoked Marlboro Reds, and he always had a cool ride.  Once, he had this silver Chevrolet truck that was jacked waaaaayyyyy up–he had to lift me in it, I couldn’t climb up–and he had installed a special horn in it like the one in the General Lee (from The Duke’s of Hazard, in case you don’t know.)  He used to hit it, and it literally echoed off of the hills. It was the coolest thing ever! 

    He also had an old black Jeep, which transcended coolness.  He could drive it right up the side of a mountain (or so it seemed to me, anyway.)  He was a good mechanic, and he was a coal miner.  We had a Doberman Pinscher as our family dog.  I guess, looking back, he was the “rough and rowdy” type, but he was just a kid when I was born. 

     Even now, I still don’t think of my dad as “old,” though we are both certainly “older.”  All of the things about him I said before are still true.  He still listens to rock and roll, and smokes, and drinks beer (though not too often–his “older” stomach won’t allow that) and though he may not always have the ride of his choice, the one he picks almost always has something unique about it. 

     My dad has always been good for a laugh, and his humor is a little dry, bordering sarcastic at times, but never mean.  We share taste in music, for the most part, and movies too, though the path diverges from time to time.  I can always remember my dad being as much a friend as a father.  He was never great at being the heavy–I just don’t think he has the heart to be a hard-core disciplinarian like some dads are.  He came in at the end of the flower power movement, remember.  If you don’t believe me, consider the following:

     Don’t laugh–if you are within ten or fifteen years of my age in either direction, I just about guarantee there is a picture of your dad that looks just like this somewhere out there.  Remember, this was the height of hip at that time.  I remember once, one of my friends said, “Your dad is good-looking, for a dad.”  I told him, and he just laughed and laughed.  Now that I’m older, and a parent, I think I finally get the joke.

     I still think my dad is cool.  It’s funny how we sometimes think of our parents.  We don’t think of them as actual people.  We tend to forget that they are more than just our parental units, there to provide for us and take care of our needs.  They have their own lives, and their own needs, and they make lots of sacrifices for their kids.  I didn’t send a card to my dad for Father’s Day, but there wouldn’t be one that said what I wanted, anyway.  They either say too  much, or too little.  (Sometimes I have the same problem.)  What do you say to a man who bought you the Led Zeppelin box set for Christmas one year, and taught you to smoke, and drive too fast?  What do you say to a guy who is your dad, yes, but also so much more than that? He’s the guy who gave you your temper, your hands, and a million hugs over the years. Nothing much to say, I guess.  Just thanks, Dad, and I love you.

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